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The "lessons learned" of Haiti: European aid not negligible at all

photo credit: DICOD/Ministry of Defense

(BRUSSELS2) The earthquake in Haiti (which occurred on January 12) was one of the worst disasters because it not only caused numerous victims (212.000 dead, 300.000 injured, 4.000 amputees, 1 million homeless, 2,6 .XNUMX million people who require food aid), it has also destroyed the transport and communication infrastructure as well as the country's administration and affected the international institutions present. The UN forces were particularly disorganized. But so does the European presence. The EU delegation was thus directly affected: the head of the delegation was evacuated, the charge d'affaires killed, several members of the staff injured. As for the Spanish embassy, ​​which held the presidency, it was destroyed and its ambassador evacuated. The other representations of the Member States present on the island were also affected.

The first European response was swift. The first experts from ECHO – the humanitarian aid office – arrived 14 hours later and those from the European Civil Protection Mechanism (MIC) soon after. SITCEN also deployed two experts on site. A first aid of 3 million euros was released in emergency.

Total humanitarian assistance amounted to 460 million euros (including 120 million from the Community budget – ECHO). More than 800 civilian experts have been provided through the civil protection mechanism: 12 rescue and search teams (USAR) have been deployed with their dogs (440 people), as well as 2 field hospitals, 5 advanced medical posts and 38 teams medical supplies as well as transport aid (4,5 million euros). More than 2000 soldiers have been deployed with boats, planes, helicopters and engineering forces, including 260 gendarmerie officers provided by France, Italy and Spain to reinforce MINUSTAH.

On the reconstruction and development side. A first reconstruction aid package of 100 million euros has been released by the European Commission with France, Spain and Belgium. And a second envelope of 1,2 billion euros (the 2nd largest amount) was announced at the New York conference. Of this amount, 460 million euros are provided by the European budget and 300 million have already been committed.

Political and coordination side, an extraordinary Council of EU Foreign Ministers was convened in the week of the disaster (January 18). And a small cell (EUCO Haiti) was set up on the SITCEN side.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).